THE ISLAND OF MISFIT TOYS: Jordan’s Approach to Building a Winning Team in Charlotte

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THE PLAYERS (AKA THE MISFITS):

It starts with the city itself.  Once a shining example of the NBA’s ever-growing popularity in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Charlotte finds itself today as a middle aged divorcee six years into a rebound marriage, unsure if it was ever cut out for this pro basketball city thing to begin with.*

The team’s first All-Star and only remaining original member was a bargain bin castoff selected in the expansion draft.  Young Gerald Wallace was worth less to the Sacramento Kings than shedding $1 million from their bloated payroll.

Even though he is only one of a dozen or so current NBA players who can score twenty points a night while preventing his opponent from doing the same, Stephen Jackson was exiled from Golden State for what amounted to a $5 million expiring contract and a poor shooting, non-rebounding Eastern European caveman.

Once universally revered, hall of fame head coach Larry Brown arrived in Charlotte a tarnished brand.  In a League where head coaching vacancies are filled annually by the same retread Temp Agency, Brown had to practically reach out to an old friend in order to secure a job and begin rebuilding his reputation.

And finally there’s Jordan.  A man who could do no wrong on the court is now the man who can barely do anything right off of it.  Joining the names Ehlo and Russell in the MJ ethos are new ones like Kwame and Morrison.  For the first time in nearly 30 years, Michael Jordan has something to prove in the game of basketball.

A BRIEF, PAINFUL RECAP

Successful small market teams (OKC, San Antonio, Portland, Utah, Orlando) use the same formula and we all know it: BUILD THROUGH THE DRAFT.  Draft stars to cheap rookie deals, treat ‘em well, sign ‘em to big contracts before they hit free agency and keep drafting young talent and signing mid-level free agents to pair with them.  Rinse and repeat.

The Bobcats are currently the worst drafting franchise in the NBA.  It’s not even up for debate.  In six plus years of existence, not once has one of their draft picks sniffed an All-Star game – and the ‘Cats have had more lottery selections than anyone else in that span.  Indulge me for another brief and painful recap:

2004: Emeka Okafor.  GRADE: a solid double. Could have had more picks and taken Big Al or Iggy if Bob Johnson had a clue about running a business, “hmm, buy a pick from Phoenix for $2 million to draft Jefferson, Deng or Iguodala or build a brand new cable sports network from scratch?  What’s the main draw you ask?  Charlotte Bobcats basketball of course!  Brevin Knight every night!”

2005: Ray Felton/Crab Bread May.  GRADE: a sacrifice bunt. Felton a below average starter for a few years, May on his way to hosting Man vs. Food: EXTREME CARBS!
2006: Adam Morrison.  GRADE: whiff.
Not only a whiff but a McGwire Whiff.  The kind where the guy is on ‘roids and whiffs so hard that he blows out both knees in the process.  Embarrassing.
2007: Jason Richardson/Jared Dudley.  GRADE: RBI single. Could have been worse.  At least realized that they didn’t know how to draft and received a couple non-bust assets in return.

2008: Augustin/Ajinca.  GRADE: whiff. Not as bad as the Morrison knee blowout but a close second.  Passed on Brook Lopez and threw away a future first rounder in order to select Freedom Fries.  Jordan was on record as saying that the team sat out the 2010 draft because “Tyrus Thomas was our first round pick.”  No, Michael.  Alexis Ajinca is your 2010 first round pick.  Ugh.
2009: Henderson/Brown.  GRADE: promising single right up the gap.
Henderson looked good in some late season action and is at least athletic enough to belong in the League–although his complete lack of an outside shot scares me.  Derrick Brown has the Gerald Wallace “I’m not intellectually capable enough to realize I shouldn’t be any good” gene – and this is no insult to Crash, look at how the book-smarts have hampered Okatron 2000’s career.  Higher grade for this draft if LB actually plays them next year.
2010: Ajinca by proxy.  GRADE: Freedom whiff.

So there you go folks, somehow with all of this draft day carnage in their immediate past, the Charlotte Bobcats attained a winning record in 2009-2010 and stole the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference.  So how in the hell did they do it?

GIVE US YOUR UNDER-PERFORMING & YOUR OVER-PAID

Nazr Mohammed, Tyson Chandler, Gana Diop, Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw.  What’s the single thread that ties these players together?  Why, it’s the fact that their former teams handed them massive contracts and then immediately realized that they’d made a mistake.  “Oh crap, we just signed Joel Pryzbilla to a nine year $80 million contract.  Quick, get Jordan on the phone!”

So in a silly season which saw half of the League’s teams trade away wins for cap space, the Bobcats “philosophy” of taking on bad contracts to win now was just wacky enough to propel them into the postseason.  While other GMs plotted for future dynasties, Jordan mortgaged the farm on the more modest and attainable goal of simply making the Playoffs.  It worked.  The ‘Cats finished the season as one of the Association’s top 15 teams.

Could it be that MJ and crony Rod Higgins are sharking their peers by making fiscally questionable deals to upgrade the team’s talent pool?  Have the ‘Cats created a new “Freakonomics” meets “Moneyball” model that challenges the importance of the amateur draft and free agency?  Is Michael Jordan stealthily playing checkers while the rest of the League plays chess?  Or will all of these questionable contracts and draft day screw-ups eventually cripple the team, making future trades difficult and free agent additions impossible?**

If Jordan and Higgins are intent on foregoing the tried and true paradigm for small market success and continue with their merry spending ways, then I present to you, without further ado…

THE SUMMER OF 2010’s MISFIT TOY CANDIDATES:

What makes a Misfit Toy candidate?  Simple: you have to be way overpaid and way underperforming.  If you fit this description then I hope you like pulled pork BBQ ‘cause your probably coming to Carolina!

Ben Gordon 4 yrs: $47 million

Y’think Joey Dumars is just a tad bit regretful for signing a 6’3” sixth man shooting guard to a $60 million deal?  Gordon is way overpaid for his production but could be exactly what the doctor ordered on a team like the Bobcats: Electric bench and fourth quarter scoring.  The ‘Cats are desperate for it.  That said, Dumars is notoriously tough to trade with.  Wonder if a combination of Boris Diaw and Gerald Henderson might get this done.

Monta Ellis 4 yrs: $44 million

We’ve been speculating on this one for years.  Ellis hogs the ball and jacks up shots at an unprecedented rate.  Not good on a team with lots of offensive options like Golden State but could be an absolute godsend for the Bobcats, who spent the vast majority of last season spastically passing the ball around on offense like it was a live hand grenade.  Again, wonder if Diaw and Henderson or Chandler’s expiring could get this done.  The W’s are a mess in the front office right now, Higgins could potentially steal something else in return (pick, prospect).

Baron Davis 3yrs: $41 million

A blast from the past, a former home grown product entering the end of his career.  Still has the size and offensive firepower to occasionally dominate a game.  Couldn’t be any worse than Felton and is so overpaid that the ‘Cats could conceivably unload Diop’s longer deal in exchange.

Al Jefferson 3yrs: $42 million

Not sure exactly why Big Al is being shopped so fiercely this summer.  Who knows what goes on in the mind of David Kahn.  If the rest of League’s GMs are playing chess to MJ’s checkers, then Kahn is playing badminton.  Al would be a huge upgrade at the PF spot for the ‘Cats but not quite sure what the T’Wolves would want in exchange.  I’m praying that Kahn would ok a deal that would send out Jefferson and Ramon Sessions (Andre Miller: The Next Generation) for Tyson and Nazr’s expirings (plus a future first rounder).

Emeka Okafor: 4yrs, $52 million

Tied with two others on this list (see below) for the worst contract in the League.  Obviously, it was the Bobcats who signed him to it.  Was such a poor fit in New Orleans that Charlotte actually won the trade by taking back 6ppg/6rpg, semi-crippled Tyson Chandler in exchange.  Hate the contract but could live with ‘Mek’s 16 + 10 if the Hornets threw in Darren Collison.  Diop/Mohammed/Augustin for Okafor/Collison anybody?

Rashard Lewis: 3yrs, $65 million

Sole possession of 2nd Worst Contract in the League.  He’s paid over $20 million a year over the next three.  Yeah, you read that right.  Rashard should gift half his salary to Dwight Howard every season.  Without D-Ho backing him up in the lane, Lewis’s skinny frame and lack of defensive skills would make him an absolute liability.  Don’t think the Magic would trade him (they’re firmly in “go for broke” mode) but his offensive skills and outside shooting would fill a need for the ‘Cats.

Elton Brand: 3yrs, $51 million

Here we go, a good old fashioned back to the basket All-Star power forward.  Only problem is that Elton hasn’t been the same since an achilles injury derailed his career a few seasons ago.  He’s a round peg in a square hole with fast paced Philly but could regain dominance in Larry Brown’s grind it out half-court offense in Charlotte.  Would Diaw/Mohammed (expiring) be enough to get it done?

Hedu Turkoglu: 4yrs, $43 million

We’ve been hearing this rumor for a solid month now.  Hedu and Jack to Charlotte for Boris, Diop and D.J.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense mainly because Hedu can only play small forward, doesn’t defend or rebound well and is essentially not very good.  He’s basically Boris with a worse contract and poorer defense.  Jack and Ray Felton may as well be the same player.  Dud.  Oh and Hedu is one of the other “Worst Contract in the League”ers.  The other one?

Gilbert Arenas: 4yrs, $60 million

I’ve already written about this in length so I won’t rehash it here.  If MJ could swing a deal featuring Diop, Diaw and Mohammed for Gilbert and an asset (prospect or pick) then do it.  It’d be the biggest gamble in MJ’s tenure but he’s shown that he’s most definitely the gambling type.  An Arenas/JAX/CRASH/Tyrus/Chandler core could win 50 games this year as long as everybody stays relatively healthy.  The team would also retain the young talent on the roster and pick up either a pick or a young player like Javale McGee or Blatche from the Wiz for their troubles.

Allen Iverson: free agent.

We couldn’t leave out good old AI.  He’s a free agent and has declared himself ready take on the League again.  The dude has hit rock bottom.  If you’re gonna take a flyer on him then now is the time to do it.  If he would accept a smaller (possibly bench) role and play nice with his new teammates then I can’t think of a better way for him to end his career than with his old coach in the Queen City.  He’d also come cheap.  Think: Flip Murray Advanced.

IN CONCLUSION

Don’t be surprised if Jordan pulls off a deal for one of these misfits sometime between now and the end of next month.  MJ sat out the draft and one gets the sense that both he and Trader Larry are chomping at the bit to make yet another move for an overpriced toy in need of a new home.

Until then, Enjoy the Offseason Bobcats fans…

-ASChin

*I find it ironic that throughout Charlotte’s twenty plus years of NBA basketball history the vast majority of the city’s successful players have come via trade or as castaways: Monster Mash, Eddie Jones, Mase, Vlade Two Packs, Easy E Campbell, P-Whipped Rice, Curry 1.0, Don’t Tell Me No Bogues, Crash and JAX.  Doesn’t that sort of represent how the city’s success was built as well?  Sure, there are some shining examples of homegrown talent but the vast majority of the Queen City’s brain pool came here from somewhere else looking for a new start.  Buffalo, Rochester, Jersey, Pittsburgh, WV, Ohio, represent BABY BABY!  UH!

**The good news is that the team drafts so poorly that they’ll never have to worry about re-signing their own talent on the open market.  “What’s that?  Raymond is an unrestricted free agent?  He might sign with another team?  Huh.  Anyways, so you’re telling me that a poached egg is actually boiled?  I always wondered how they did that…”

Maybe The Bobcats Know What They’re Doing?

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Fans Felt That Allen Iverson Was The Answer.

Coach Larry Brown, Owner Michael Jordan, and GM Rod Higgins just might be smart enough to run an NBA team.

Before the start of the season, almost anyone with a casual awareness of the Charlotte Bobcats had an opinion about the possible addition of Allen Iverson. Days before Iverson signed a contract with the Memphis Grizzlies, steady rumors streamed the possibility that The Answer would reunite with Coach Larry Brown in Charlotte or find a spot with the Heat in Miami.

As the Bobcats headed into their training camp, Charlotte’s local media covered the news to capitalize on the buzz around the first relevant player to ever be associated with the Bobcats. Several sites (like this one) relayed each syllable of news related to the potential signing. Steadily, the predictably Charlottean (risk-averse, investment-minded) reaction toward Iverson’s “attitude problem” was pushed to the side by basketball fans wanting to see a star-caliber player that would entertain them with his on-court merits. While the public opinion may have been swayed, the Bobcats front office wasn’t. Reader polls may have shown that the serious ‘Cats enthusiasts wanted A.I. over team chemistry, but Larry Brown and company seemed to think otherwise.

Best Answer = No Answer

For a few weeks, Coach Brown delivered a consistent and diplomatic response when asked about the potential signing of Iverson, telling reporters that he didn’t think they could give him a respectable offer. Most of us didn’t see it at the time, but Brown was making it clear that the Bobcats were not going to sign Allen Iverson. Perhaps, it was entirely based upon Larry’s past experience coaching Allen in Philadelphia that told him that it wasn’t the right move for his team. Maybe, Rod Higgins and Michael Jordan dialed friends around the league (Detroit or Denver) and learned something that negated any marketing buzz that Iverson would have delivered to Charlotte. Despite the factors that affected their judgement to pass on the NBA’s 6th all-time scorer for a bargain contract, no one could have expected how the year would unravel for Iverson.

Fans from sites like this one, with much generous wisdom to share, would have ordered Bobcats GM Rod Higgins to draw up a contract for Allen Iverson on the first day of free agency. Instead, the team passed on the 34 yr-old shooting guard at the end of the summer. As the season began, Charlotte’s offense looked absolutely horrible. The Bobcats were on pace to become historically inept at scoring. At that early stretch of the season, The Answer seemed to be the obvious piece missing on the team. Quickly, Charlotte saved their season with a brilliant trade for another “difficult” shooting guard in Stephen Jackson, a player that brought the offensive skillset that the team lacked and the defense effort that Larry Brown required.

Disintegration may be a good term to summarize the contrasting situation for Iverson. Just as the talking heads warned, A.I. stepped into the Fedex Forum after signing with the Memphis Grizzlies and rubbed everyone the wrong way. The owner had several one-on-one meetings to discuss the situation and Iverson took a leave from the team nearly a week after the start of the season. Days later we was released, the Memphis marriage was annulled and the Grizzlies seemed improve right away. Briefly, Allen went into a short lived retirement. A good bit of the season passed before Iverson’s agent was able to secure a contract for the nearly untouchable player. Philadelphia brought A.I. back for a homecoming and the fans loved the story of his return. Unfortunately, the Sixers continued to struggle and Iverson performed like half the player he had been before. Injuries and family issues kept him away from the team at the mid-season mark. Although he had been voted in as an All-Star, Iverson declined to play so that he could tend to a family matter (presumably a child’s illness). Surprisingly, Allen had made his way to Charlotte for the CIAA tournament and after-parties rather than family matters during this stretch.  Then, in early March, Iverson left the 76ers and news reports surfaced that his wife had filed for divorce on the same day. Philadelphia Inquirer’s Stephen A. Smith, who is said to be a fan of  The Answer, wrote an article to publicly out Allen’s gambling and alcohol issues a week later.

It’s tough to hear about how the news and private information all went public so quickly, but it’s likely that this was the culmination of a pattern of troubled behavior. It just might be that the guys in charge of running Charlotte’s NBA franchise  had just enough familiarity with Allen Iverson to keep themselves out of harm’s way.

Links:

Bobcat’s Jordan Said No To Bringing In Iverson (Yahoo! Sports)

Charlotte Still An Option For Iverson (Summer 2009)

Allen Iverson & Bobcats Team Chemistry

Iverson Needs More Than a Prayer (Stephen A. Smith)

Iverson Going Through Tough Times (Yahoo! Sports)

Wikipedia – Allen Iverson

Say Hello to My Little Friend!

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Bobcats Crunk It Up a Notch by Trading Raja Bell for Stephen Jackson

This photo composite plainly illustrates the differences between Stephen Jackson and Raja Bell

The Bobcats surprise everybody but Mark Stein today by trading Raja Bell and Vlad Radmanovic to the Golden State Warriors for Stephen Jackson and Acie Law.  The Sporting News reaction here.  Golden State of Mind reactions here.  RealGM analysis here.

I’m literally just back in the door from Hong Kong/Macau and after reviewing almost a full week’s worth of Charlotte Bobcats Bloopers & Practical Jokes, I was 30% sure that I was going to walk away from this blog.  Just couldn’t take it anymore.  Five years of ineptitude is enough.  Time to fire them as my favorite NBA team.  Then this happens.  To quote Michael Corleone (via Silvio Dante), “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

THE GOOD NEWS IS THE BAD NEWS

First off, the deal stinks of desperation.  So it really suits the Bobcats because they ARE desperate and maybe (*fingers crossed*) Bob Johnson is finally coming to the conclusion that a popular Playoff team is more valuable on the open market than an unpopular Disaster-Squad.  Jackson is without a doubt an offensive upgrade over Raja Bell and a similarly skilled defender.  He’s immediately Charlotte’s most feared scorer (which, to be fair, is kind of like “the most nutritious KFC Bowl”) and he adds a mean streak of attitude to a franchise that’s never had one.

CAP KILLER

To make the trade, the Bobcats had to provide GS with a salary dump and they send out two decent role players who are owed a total of $18.4 million over the next two seasons in exchange for a 31-year-old wing player who’s on the books for $35.2 million over the next four.  The team has essentially taken itself out of free agency until the summer of 2012 and maybe even 2013.  Just to put this into perspective, next season the Bobcats will be paying out $40 million to the All-Star core of: Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Tyson Chandler & Stephen Jackson.  Then add in $13 million for backup centers Nazr Mohammed and Gana Diop and you start to see just how bad the Bobcats have been at managing their cap.  I can’t figure out who Michael Jordan is patterning his strategy after: Isiah Thomas or the country of Iceland?  Or maybe MJ just went to the movies this past weekend and figured that the world was going to end in 2012 anyway, so screw it.

RISKY BUSINESS

Jackson’s arrival is significant as it is the first time in franchise history that the team has ever courted a player rife with controversy.  Could this be a new era in BobcatLand?  Are the squeaky clean days of Matt Carroll, Brevin Knight and Emeka Okafor over and gone?  While hardcore NBA fans might remember some of SJAX’s more positive attributes, most sports fans are only aware of two:

  1. Over the past two months Stephen Jackson has thrown his team under the bus and sulked his way into a trade AFTER the Warriors graced him with an extremely generous contract extension.
  2. On the night of November 19th, 2004 during a game in Detroit, he ran into the stands and punched a bunch of people in the face for assaulting his friend Ron Artest.

*I presume that most fans have forgotten about the incident at an Indianapolis strip club in ’06 in which Jackson fired several shots from a 9mm after being taunted by the clubs patrons and “hit by a car.”  That kind of thing happens all the time these days.

I repeat, this is a desperate, risky move by the Bobcats.  The organization paid very close attention to its public image during the team’s first five seasons and when they ignored Allen Iverson during the summer, you could assume that they were simply staying the course.  The strategy is sound.  A great deal of the Charlotte Hornets’ demise can be attributed to a single trade: Larry Johnson for Anthony Mason.  In that case, the city was losing an immensely popular hero and gaining a player who was labeled “a thug” but hardly lived up to the reputation.  With Jackson, the Bobcats are importing a turbulent personality who lies somewhere in between Steve Smith and Rae Carruth (*I’m purposefully trying to beat Tom Sorenson to the punch with that reference*) and if S-JAX causes any trouble in Charlotte, the hypothetical incident might very well signal the end of the NBA in the Queen City.

IN CONCLUSION

Let’s face it.  We all went to bed last night knowing that the Bobcats stink.  And now?  Now there is a glimmer of hope that Stephen Jackson was the only missing ingredient for Playoff Success.  At the very least, he’ll make things interesting and if you are going to go down, do it like Bon Jovi told the Young Guns.  Go down in a Blaze of Glory.

-ASChin

Post-Iverson Fallout: 5 Reasons Why Bobcats Fans Should Put Down the Razorblades

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It seems like the darkest of times for Bobcats fans.

Are You Having Difficulty Coping with Being a Bobcats Fan?

Allen Iverson has agreed to join the Memphis Grizzlies, having been unable to come to terms with the Bobcats.
Meanwhile, rumors abound that the knuckle-headed Rashard McCants will be wearing a Charlotte uniform soon.
Fingers are still collectively being crossed in hopes that Tyson Chandler will be able play most of the upcoming season.
The team has yet to come to contract terms with Raymond Felton and a backup Power Forward has yet to be found.
Worse yet, Bob Johnson is still the team’s owner.

But I urge Bobcats fans to postpone the cutting and self-mutilation for at least a few more months because there is still some hope for the city of Charlotte’s 2nd NBA Franchise.

1. The Egos of Larry Brown & Michael Jordan.

MJ may well be a Hall of Shame evaluator of talent but he – along with Rod Higgins and Larry Brown – has shown a willingness to correct the roster in places where the roster needs correcting.
Last season it was an issue of passing and chemistry.  The Diaw & Bell trade remedied the problem spectacularly.
Thus far this off-season it is an issue of scoring.
While McCants would help a bit with this as an eighth or ninth-man role-player, the team still needs a starter who provides scoring for 40 minutes a night.
The Monta Ellis rumors are surfacing again and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if such a deal were to occur before training camp.
With MJ being inducted into the Hall of Fame and Coach Brown still remastering his degraded image, it is doubtful that either one of them wants to be made a League laughingstock anytime soon.
Expect a move to be made.

2. Boris Diaw & Gerald Wallace.

Regardless of what transactions occur in the next few weeks, the Bobcats find themselves currently with one of the best Forward combos in the League.  While neither player is currently an All-Star, they are both entering their primes as excellent complementary players: Wallace with his hustle, energy and defense; Diaw with his court-vision, high skill-set and underrated defense.
A scoring presence in the starting five would result in nothing but improvement from both of these players.

3. DJ Augustin & Gerald Henderson.

We’re not certain of what Henderson is going to provide at the NBA level but we know exactly what DJ is capable of.  The 2nd Team All-Rookie shot lights-out last season and looked much more comfortable than most players (including Raymond Felton in his rookie season) leading a team at the point during his first year.
The fact that the Bobcats have two young, talented backcourt players on rookie-scale contracts will go a long way in remedying the current salary cap horror that the team finds themselves trapped in.

4. Sean May and Adam Morrison have been ejected.

No one likes to wear an albatross of past mistakes.  Having both Morrison and May on the roster last season was a constant reminder to both management and the fans of what could have been and what should not have been.  Yes, taking on Vlad Radmanovic’s contract for an extra year is a sour pill (especially when the team could’ve simply chose not to extend Morrison’s Q.O. last summer – giving them plenty of cash to sign Iverson this summer) but what’s past is past and Radmanovic is still young enough and talented enough to offer some value as a 7th or 8th man.  Radman could be utilized this season as a type of Rashard Lewis hybrid-four, lessening the need for a traditional backup PF.
Sean May’s ceaseless “potential” will move cross-country to Sacramento, relieving the Bobcats of having to depend on one of the League’s most undependable.  Let casino owners like the Maloofs gamble on May’s potential while Larry Brown finds someone who can provide consistent NBA minutes.

5. The Raymond Felton contract situation.

The current stalemate between Felton and the Bobcats speaks to a new maturity in the front office.  The organization has finally come to its senses when evaluating its own players.  Raymond Felton is reportedly asking for $7 million per season.  Meanwhile, a similarly talented young player (Ramon Sessions) has signed a 4 year/$16 million contract with the T-Wolves.  There is hope here that the Bobcats can either sign Felton for a contract closer to the value of Sessions than what Raymond is asking for or bundle Raymond as part of a trade for a scorer.

The cliche is that it’s always darkest before the dawn and I can’t see why it’s not true for the Bobcats.

There is talent, there is a Hall of Fame coach, and there are two basketball legends who are undoubtably concerned with their legacies.  Expect something good and expect it soon.

-ASChin

The Answer Awaits

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Iverson Bobcats Era Awaits (original: Slam Magazine)

We’ve been writing about it since early April.  Fans have been debating the move all summer.  And now Dime Magazine is reporting that the Allen Iverson Era is almost upon us.

The move is aggressive and smart.  Iverson will provide a much needed scoring presence on the court and a huge marketing boost for a team with little brand recognition.

As the Bobcats current salary glut illustrates, the team will need to make another move if they want to add quality frontcourt depth while staying under the luxury tax threshold.

Several prominent voices in the Bobcats online community (including the team’s beat writer) have speculated that the Iverson signing would signal a trade of Raja Bell and his expiring contract.

Not so fast.

For one, trading Raja would shackle the team with an impossible Raymond Felton/D.J. Augustin/Iverson backcourt rotation.  As none of these players measure greater than 6’0″, Larry Brown would have to depend on unproven rookie SG Gerald Henderson to check taller SGs and PGs.

Also, if Iverson’s contract runs for either one or two seasons, the Bobcats would be in perfect position to start two young players on rookie scale contracts (Henderson & Augustin) if Bell and/or Iverson decide not to re-sign.

This all points to the seemingly inevitable Raymond Felton trade.  He would have to approve any deal after the Bobcats extended a qualifying offer earlier this summer but there are still quite a few teams in need of a starting caliber PG and Raymond could potentially squeeze a nice multi-year offer from them in a sign and trade.  The Bobcats could then bring back some insurance at the PF position and be primed for a Playoff run in the coming season.

Though the ink hasn’t formally wet the paper, the Baseline applauds the Bobcats organization for their aggressive overtures in recruiting one of the NBA’s all-time greats.

-ASChin

Charlotte Still An Option For Iverson

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UPDATE 8.19.2009 :
ESPN has reviewed the Allen Iverson situation, tracking him on Twitter and interviewing sources from Miami, NY, and Charlotte. Chris Sheridan received these comments from Coach Larry Brown –

“There are financial factors, and there’s also the problem of the availability of minutes in our rotation with Ray [Felton, a restricted free agent], Raja [Bell] and D.J. [Augustin] — and those are a couple of major obstacles we’re trying to overcome,” Bobcats coach Larry Brown told ESPN.com Tuesday. “But at the end of the day, I want to help him, and it might be as his coach again. We’ll have to wait and see. . . I’ve spoken to a lot of people on his behalf, because last year was a difficult situation for him being put in where he was, replacing Chauncey Billups. That would have been a difficult situation for anybody. But I know he’s comfortable with me, and we’ve had a lot of discussions. When he played for me was probably when he played his best. Would I like to coach him again? Absolutely.”

Where is Allen Iverson going to play this coming season? That’s the big question about The Answer.

Earlier today, Iverson dropped this on Twitter

If you think that I am just going away-Think again! I am getting ready for the NBA season. Waiting for the call. Charlotte, Miami, NY.

The topic of Allen Iverson joining the Charlotte Bobcats is truly grating. Some love the idea of AI leading the offense of the new-look Cats. Some see it as a disaster in the making. Could Iverson redeem himself, and lead this faceless franchise? Do the Bobcats trust him enough to take that gamble?

When you follow a struggling small-market sports franchise like the Charlotte Bobcats, it gets somewhat embarrassing watching your home arena fill up only when superstars from opposing teams come to town. Sometimes you try to convince yourself that your team has it’s own superstar, but Gerald Wallace will be lucky to make one or two All-Star games in his entire career. Die-hard fans (like us) will always follow the squad intently, but making the team accessible to the “casual fan” has proven nearly impossible. After NFL football went away, the organization and the team got a brief, sweet taste of fan support last spring as the team’s roster began to resemble a real NBA lineup, playing a better “ball movement” style that hadn’t existed before. Can they really just settle on having a taste, or do they want to hear some noise this coming season?

If the Bobcats make the move to acquire Allen Iverson, their marketing crew will be in overload for the 2009-2010 NBA Season. New uniforms, Tyson Chandler, Allen Iverson. . . sounds like a pretty good show to watch – however it turns out.

Post-Chandler Trade: Is Iverson the Answer?

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By signing Allen Iverson, the Bobcats could salvage the upcoming season

Could Iverson salvage the Bobcats season?

I did a little math last night.  Nothing complicated like you’d see over at 82games.com, Queen City Hoops or with John Hollinger.  I’m not mathematically brilliant like those guys.  Just some basic addition.

If you take the Bobcats current top eight players Point Per Game averages from last season and add them up, you get 90.6 points per game.  Last season, the Bobcats finished 30th out of 30 teams in scoring at 93.6 (The League average was around 100 per game).

The Bobcats leading scorer from last season, Gerald Wallace, averaged 16 and a half points a game.  Diaw put up a career high 15.0 ppg after the trade from Phoenix.  Those are your two top offensive threats, Bobcats fans.  Are you as worried as I am?

It’s pretty obvious that the Bobcats could benefit from A.I.’s scoring presence and we’ve talked about that here before at length.  What a lot fans might not understand is how precariously close the team is to this year’s $69.92 million luxury tax level.
After the Chandler trade, the team stands at $59.84 million and this is BEFORE re-signing Raymond Felton and shoring up their backup PF position.  And since there’s no way Bob Johnson is paying luxury tax this year, the Bobcats will basically have to choose between re-signing Raymond or bringing in Iverson.

With such a dearth of scoring on the roster, I’m not sure if it’s even a choice.  The Bobcats need a scorer and Iverson is the last one out there on the open market.

Now, you could argue that Detroit, San Antonio and New Orleans all made the playoffs last season scoring less than 97 points per game.  The only difference is is that all of those teams have guys on their rosters who could drop 30 on any given night.  As much as I love Gerald and Boris, I wouldn’t put them into the scoring class of Rip Hamilton, Chris Paul, David West, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker or Manu just yet.

TURNING FELTON INTO AN ASSET

Would Golden State take Raymond Felton for Brandon Wright?

Signing A.I. to a two year full mid-level deal starting at $5.85 million would leave a little less than $2 million (via bi-annual exception) this offseason to sign a dependable backup PF.

Since Felton is a quality player who the Bobcats invested four seasons in, you wouldn’t want to just withdrawal the qualifying offer and renounce his rights when you could get something out of him in a sign-and-trade.

Of the three or so NBA teams that are currently without a decent starting PG, perhaps the best fit for Raymond would be Golden State.  Would Don Nelson be interested in dealing his least favorite Tarheel (Brandon Wright) for Felton?  The Warriors don’t have a “pure” PG and instead have two shoot-first, smallish SGs in Monta Ellis and Steph Curry (as well a roster full of guys who need shots).  Maybe Nellie would be interested in a team-oriented, super-quick point for his run-and-gun offense?

As long as Raymond doesn’t sign for anything above 20% of last year’s salary, he sheds the Base Year status and could be either dealt straight-up for a player like Wright (if the Warriors have a trade exception — I couldn’t find a definitive answer) or packaged with Mohammed or Radmanovic for Speedy Claxton’s dead weight contract.

What do you guys think?  How would you improve team scoring?  Is there a trade or two out there that could bring in a better scorer than Iverson while enabling the Bobcats to retain Felton?

-ASChin